Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bread Weekend

During a cold snap last year, I bought The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. This was the first cookbook I actually read, before diving in. After learning the importance of measuring by weight and proportions and how to administer the “window pane” test, I began the two-day process of making Ciabatta...a crusty, holey bread that’s like heaven dipped in olive oil.

The first day was dedicated to making the starter, Poolish. Simple enough. Three ingredients, stirred in a bowl, left to sit on the counter for four hours and then thown in the fridge, until the next day.

The next morning broke early and cold and I was ready to go. The book’s photo showed Poolish as a bubbly, blob-like dough that you could pour out of the bowl. Mine was like paste....not wallpaper paste, but more like Elmer’s paste. I tried to continue on with the recipe, as if nothing was wrong, but when I added the other ingredients to the starter, my Kitchen Aid threatened to explode as it tried to knead the brick-like chunk of flour.

The mess went in the trash and the book went on the shelf. I found another Ciabatta recipe at that resulted in better luck, but I wasn’t able to get the big holes that Ciabatta is known for.

Last weekend, the weather inspired me, again, and I dusted off The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. Not only would I make Ciabatta, but I also stirred together starters for Anadama and Multigrain loaves. I woke up early Sunday morning and started in. Since I had three breads that baked at different temperatures and required 3 loaf pans, even though I only have two, timing of mixing, rising and baking was critical. It’s also the reason it took me eight hours to finish, but I enjoyed every one of them.

This time the Poolish turned out just like book’s picture and I even got a few holes in the Ciabatta. It still seems like it should be a bit less dense, but it tastes great! I’m going to keep trying, until I get it right...and eat a lot of sandwhiches for lunch, until then.

The multigrain loaf was for J and it turned out pretty well, too. But, I don’t think I’ll bother with the Anadama bread again. It makes a pretty loaf, with the corn meal sprinkled over the top, but it’s got too much molasses for my taste.

I stirred up another batch of Poolish, tonight, and am taking another run at the Ciabatta this weekend. We’re going to a Super Bowl party on Sunday, so I’m going to bring the bread along with some cheese and meat for open-faced sandwhiches. I’m really looking forward to the game. There’s no bigger riot than a gay Super Bowl Party. It’s a completely different event than the parties showcased in the beer commercials....BIG FUN!


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